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Experiences of general practice care for self-harm: a qualitative study of young people’s perspectives

Mughal, Faraz, Dikomitis, Lisa, Babatunde, Opeyemi O, Chew-Graham, Carolyn A (2021) Experiences of general practice care for self-harm: a qualitative study of young people’s perspectives. British Journal of General Practice, 71 (711). e744-e752. ISSN 0960-1643. (doi:10.3399/bjgp.2021.0091) (KAR id:96919)

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Background: Self-harm is a growing concern and rates of self-harm in young people (aged 12–25 years) presenting to general practice are rising. There is, however, little evidence about young people’s experiences of GP care and on accessing general practice.

Aim: To explore the help-seeking behaviours, experiences of GP care, and access to general practice of young people who self-harm.

Design and setting: In this qualitative study, semi-structured interviews were conducted with young people aged 16–25 years from England with previous self-harm behaviour.

Method: Interviews with 13 young people took place between April and November 2019. Young people were recruited from the community, third-sector organisations, and Twitter. Data were analysed using reflexive thematic analysis with principles of constant comparison. A patient and public involvement advisory group informed recruitment strategies and supported interpretation of findings.

Results: Young people described the avenues of help-seeking they employ and reflected on the mixed experiences of seeing GPs that can influence future help-seeking. Preconceptions and a lack of knowledge about accessing general practice were found to be barriers to help-seeking. GPs who attempt to understand the young person and establish relationship-based care can facilitate young people accessing general practice for self-harm.

Conclusion: It is important young people are aware of how to access general practice and that GPs listen, understand, and proactively follow-up young people who self-harm. Supporting young people with self-harm behaviour requires continuity of care.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.3399/bjgp.2021.0091
Uncontrolled keywords: family medicine, help-seeking behaviour, primary healthcare, qualitative research, self-injurious behaviour, youth
Subjects: R Medicine
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Natural Sciences > Kent and Medway Medical School
Funders: Royal College of General Practitioners (
National Institute for Health Research (
Depositing User: Rachael Heller
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2022 10:52 UTC
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2023 10:50 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Dikomitis, Lisa:
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